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Review of the Brazilian climate goals should follow Brazil’s historic role

Some years ago, Brazil’s contribution to the world in controlling its deforestation rates, between 2004 and 2012, was considered the largest ever made by one of the parties to the Climate Convention. This prominent role has been slipping away. For this reason, the Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculturea movement composed of more than 260 representatives from agribusiness, civil society, the financial sector, and the academy, expresses its concern about the review of the NDC (climate goal) presented by the Brazilian government to the United Nations, which jeopardizes global efforts to keep the planet’s average temperature rise at a maximum of 1.5 ° C until the end of this century.

The lack of dialogue in the NDC review process also worries the Brazilian Coalition. Brazilian society was fundamental for the country to present an ambitious goal at the Climate Conference (COP) 21, in 2015, which resulted in the signing of the Paris Agreement. In the review, the tradition of dialogue and listening to society has not been respected.

With the revision of the NDC, Brazil changed relevant parameters that raise doubts about its level of ambition and planning capacity. The lack of clarity may hinder the country in attracting investors. Market mechanisms, emphasized by the new document, may indeed be important, but they need to be coordinated with different instruments and policies. It is fair that the country can receive external support for its mitigation efforts, but if it is in exchange for effective progress. It is essential for the country to achieve a significant reduction and work to eliminate illegal deforestation in its biomes and combat illegality. However, the mention of public policies as part of the strategy for meeting the climate goals was removed in this review of the NDC, generating uncertainties and legal unreliability.

The percentage reduction (of 37% and 43%, compared to 2005, in 2025 and 2030, respectively) remained the same in the review and the reduction of 43% in 2030 was confirmed, which until then had been done only as an indication. However, the mention of the absolute goal in giga tons of carbon was removed, which draws attention, since Brazil stood out for being the only emerging country to have a goal of absolute reduction of greenhouse gases.

It is positive that Brazil has announced a goal to neutralize its emissions by 2060 (carbon neutrality), even if indicative, but the parameters used for this purpose are not clear. Greater engagement with various actors in civil society could point to directions and means of implementation, including possibilities to anticipate the deadline for compliance. It should always be remembered that the land use and forest sector play a crucial role in the country’s carbon neutrality, considering not only the challenges of containing deforestation but also the vast potential for carbon removals, whether through restoration activities or agricultural and forest production.

The commitments under both the Paris Agreement as the National Policy on Climate Change (NPCC) will only be met if the country establishes a climate governance that is effective and that promotes adequate means of implementation, which is not yet a reality. The NPCC, for example, brings goals for 2020 that have not yet left the paper.

The Paris Agreement’s ambition-building mechanism was inspired by a Brazilian proposal. The idea was for countries to present voluntary goals if they are always progressive, gradually seeking to make climate commitments more ambitious. Therefore, the Brazilian Coalition reaffirms that the ambition in this climate agenda must be no going back and that Brazilian society must remain in the prominent role of a new economy.

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